CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Dustin Garrison churned his cleats and squeezed through the defense for an 8-yard touchdown run.

A series later he did it again from 9 yards out, barreling through safety Rickey Rumph at the goal line.

Anyone presuming Saturday was just another in a series of spring practices should have tried tackling Garrison.

“He competed—stick your nose in there and go hard,” said West Virginia running backs coach JaJuan Seider.

Dreamius Smith, Rushel Shell and Wendell Smallwood may look like the best bets to lead the backfield charge next fall, but with every yard Garrison piled up after contact, the redshirt junior showed he’s not to be discounted.

Weighing only 180, Garrison is around 40 pounds lighter than Smith and Shell. Slowed by a knee injury in 2012 and a hamstring pull last season, he didn’t possess the same flash he did as a breakout freshman with 724 yards. Yet as the Mountaineers scrimmaged Saturday at Laidley Field, Garrison seemed healthy, hungry and hard to stop.

“Blocking-wise,I think I’m just as good as Dreamius or any of the bigger backs. And running-wise I think I’m just as fast as Wendell,” he said. “Those injuries (the past two years) nicked me up a little bit, but I have no complaints and my body’s feel in good. I feel like I did when I was a freshman.”

Along with his two touchdown runs, Garrison moved the pile after catching a screen pass, showing plenty of leg strength while surging past the first-down marker. It was the kind of finishing flurry Seider wants his backs to exhibit at the end of every play.

If there was a clue that Garrison was amped for a productive day, it came before the scrimmage as WVU got pads popping during a session of Oklahoma drills. The slender running back found himself matched up against 230-pound linebacker Brandon Golson.

“Those linebackers talk a lot of smack,” said Garrison, “and for me being one of the smaller guys, they don’t want to go against me.”

Golson saw the matchup and told Garrison, “Nah, you’ve got to get out.” To which Garrison replied, “I’m not getting out.”

Though Golson said he wanted to face 256-pound Cody Clay, Garrison stood his ground and said “You’ve got me.”

Then the running back laid into the linebacker, sending their teammates into helmet-slapping hysterics.

“We went heads up and I think he thought I was going to be scared of him, but that’s not going to happen,” Garrison said. “I got the best of him.”

Seider praised that moment as one that showed a progression of toughness.

“The last two times we had Oklahomas we really took it to the linebackers,” he said. “We beat our chests on that, because that was something we were bad at last year. They would have killed us last year.

“Seeing those guys step up and striking, it goes back to what we want to improve o this spring: the fundamentals side and blocking.”

Dreamius Smith, trying to power through a cluster of defenders at the goal line, was popped by safeties Karl Joseph and Jeremy Tyler and dropped the football. The senior running back also left with an apparent left shoulder injury and did not return to action.

“He’ll be all right. He said he’s fine,” Seider said after practice.

“That was the best run Dreamius had, the one at the goal line. His pads were low and he accelerated through the hole, but he just got hit from the right and left.”

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    Lets gooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo mountaineers!!!!!!!!!

  • mad hatter

    still having a hard time today, things could be better and then again, they could be worse

  • ole sasquatch

    To Metro News: I can't help but notice many days are going by in Spring Practice and you are printing no stories on the football team. Do I just have a bad memory from previous years or are you guys and us fans getting shut out?

  • wvjoker

    Yes Master of One, we will hear the hype and have great expectations for the football team, because we are fans. Yes we will build excitement between now and August 30, because we are fans. We may lose to Alabama and be disappointed, but we will still be behind the Mountaineers with great expectations, because we are fans. We will always buy into the hype and drink the kool-aid, because we are fans. Yes it is college sports and the Mountaineers will be in the mix and will be there to cheer and support them because we are fans. We will never like reading your bull crap because we are fans.
    Yes, in the past, you have offered up your opinion to the solutions to the problems but they have NOT fallen on deaf ears, we just do not give a rat's behind, because we are fans. If you knew an ounce about football you wouldn't have to post your garbage here, and we would all know that you are the MASTER OF ONE. Unfortunately you aren't and we don't. But we are WVU fans true and blue and it makes our rear end want to spit to read your tripe. Your are dumber than sled tracks and we are still and will always be WVU MOUNTAINEER FANS. Yes you may say we are the dumb ones, but it will not change the fact that we are Mountaineers.

    • jim

      Whoo-eee! Damn, that's the best response I've ever read!You go, man.

  • mad hatter

    considering how bad our def. has been the last two yrs,, consider this/

    we hire cogdell who never has coached at the college level , to coach def.
    We hire tom bradley to coach the LB'.s but since we don't have anyone to coach the DL, we move him to the DL, knowing that he spent 11 yrs at penn state coaching LB/s,
    Now the reason is, cogdell doesn't know much about coaching the DL , so he's given the LB's nand he doens't know much about that, so Gibson will actually coach the LB/s
    Now we promote Gibson to DC, though he ]'sw never been a DC , but he has to also coach the LB's since cogdell can't be trusted.

    also, we give the safety's to deforest who actually got fired from the DC job.


  • buckeroo

    Heck, I'm optimistic! Remember the Oklahoma opener years ago with Jeff Hostetler.......? Let's not concede defeat; we just might pop this one.

  • Master of One

    Between now and the first game with Alabama, all we will hear is the Hype and what great expectations there are for this football team.

    Between now and August 30, excitement will be built up to almost a fever pitch. It happens every year. It is what it is. Its what the sportswriters do. Its their job and they do it very well.

    Then, after the Alabama game, our high hopes will come crashing down to earth in dramatic fashion. We then will all once again realize the status of the program.

    If you realize it now and prepare yourself for the inevitable, you will be better prepared to face August 30.

    If you continue to drink the Kool-Aid and buy into the Hype, you are just setting yourself up for a hard crash landing in August-November.

    That is how it is in the world of College Sports where only the strong survive....

    • SCOTT

      move away...far far away

    • mad hatter

      being a realists, i concur with master of one...
      who in the world would really believe that we will beat ala.?
      be real...they out man us are every position, and will easily out think holgerson.
      This game will pin point just where we are on a national scale..And we'll tuck our tails between our legs and head back to motown, wondering why we still dont have a div 1 qb.

    • Mike

      Master of one, You are the master of nothing. Go back to your MU board where you belong. Your nothing but a troll wanting to stir the pot. MU is a little nothing school.Just like you. At least WVU plays a real football schedule. Not like your herdies that play in the C-USA. MU will always be the little sister,not big enough to be the little brother.

      • Master of One

        Oh get off the Marshall kick...

        My comment had nothing to do with Marshall and they never have...

        Is that the best excuse you preschoolers can come up with for denying he truth?

        • wenkev

          :Nobody's denying anything. Truth is none of the games have been played yet. I am like Mike and many others in that i get sick and tired of all the bashing on here of the coaches, and the AD. As if any of you bashers had ANY CLUE (NOT) about how to run a major athletics program or coach a football or basketball team. Do I get disappointed when WVU loses? Yes. Do I assume to know how to fix it? No. Calling the coaches and the AD names (sweatsuit Huggins) doesn't FIX the problem. Calling for people to be fired doesn't FIX the problem. Presuming that a season is going to go down the tubes before it starts adds nothing to the conversation. It's the coward's way of approaching any issue. Why don't you people who are disgruntled with whatever, start giving real solutions on here? For example, who would you realistically replace Huggins or Holgersen or Luck with so that the programs would be what you want them to be? Don't know do you? The generic answer is " I don't know. I just know I don't want them." No solution. Bottom line: Either pony up with tangible solutions and stay quiet and save everyone the wasted time.

          • smitty 13

            How about getting rid of luck and replace him with huggins. replace hugins with mike carey and replace holgie with jeff castell! Now that was not so hard was it!!!!!!

          • Master of One

            In the past I have offered up several solutions to correct the problems but they always fall on deaf ears.

            Those who question the direction of the WVU Athletic Department are outnumbered by the sympathizers 5 to 1 so it really doesn't do any good.

        • Duane Ayres

          I agree with the MU carp. I'm a WVU grad and huge fan. I think it's absurd to call someone a MU troll just because their option doesn't have WVU winning a national championship. The football and mens basketball teams need to show improvement this year or some changes need to be made. I'm on Facebook, my profile pic is of my wife coach hugs and myself. MU troll I'm not!

  • Mountaineer Fanatic

    I believe our RBs will be great this season. Looking forward to them running up and down the field.
    We do, however, need a defense and a QB. If we are going with another year of dismal QB play, we will not overcome that with a large field of running backs . Very interested in hearing about who our QB will be and that our defense actually stops people.

  • Chris

    I was there Smith got hit pretty hard by both safeties he looked like he was in a lot of pain to me the fumble didn't have anything to do with it.

  • jay zoom

    A lot of small running backs have made a good show in college football. but as far as Garrison is concerned lets wait and see what happens starting in September under (REAL) game situations. he is open to injury again this season. THANKS OLLIE

    • SCOTT

      Thanks Ollie?

      What is wrong with you? Which kids are not open to injury this season. We should definitely play the ones who are not OPEN to injury........

      just read it again and I must say,

      What is wrong with you?

    • FNP

      You truly know nothing about this team or football in general. Garrison was a stud before he jacked his knee up. He did the right thing by taking it slow last year and it will pay off this season. IMO he has the best field presence of any of the running backs. He'll be a major contributor again this Fall.

      • ole sasquatch

        Field presence - Garrison the best?
        Ole Sasquatch agrees.

  • Rick55

    I have seen players who fumble and lay there but the worst thing that's hurt is their feelings. However, in this case, having seen that hit, it's safe to say that Smith probably had more than his feelings hurt. I wouldn't be too quick to judge someone who just got popped by Karl Joseph. You might lie there awhile too!

  • Marcus

    Why is it when a player fumbles or drops a pass that hits them in the hands they fake an injury or act like they are hurt? I'm guessing it's to get the attention off of the fumble and get the pissed off coach off their back?

  • pghmontaineer

    This is beyond a doubt the deepest we,ve been at running back for a very long time.
    If we just get average and low turnover play fromt the quarterback, this season should be exciting.

    • mad hatter

      but take a hard look at our off. line,,, very average and too many to replace from an average line of last yr.

      • SCOTT

        But of course the real question from someone like you would be "what color will the coaches sweater be!!!!!!!

        Oh the Drama!!!!